Can we stop the homophobia?

Gracie Vanover, Editor-in-Chief

For decades, allies and members of the LGBTQ+ community have been fighting for equality. And over the last ten years we were doing great. Legalizing gay marriage. Making Stonewall a national monument. Repealing the trangender ban from the military. The list continues. 

But recently, there has been a surge in homophobia in politics, entertainment, and other aspects of daily life. 

Over the last few months, as I have scrolled through news feeds or platforms like Twitter, I have taken in so many hateful anti-gay stories or “hot takes.” From politicians chastising LGBTQ+ people as “child groomers,” to gay-bashers whining that any LGBTQ+ discussion topic is “indoctrination,” our society is speeding in a ridiculous direction. 

One hotbed of flagrant people sporting their homophobia lies in the state of Florida and its government. With the recent passing of House Bill 1557, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, many across the country are anxious about the potential of a look-a-like bill in their states. 

The Florida bill that was signed into law last month prohibits classroom instruction and discussion about sexual orientation and gender identity in  kindergarten through third grade levels. The New York Times quoted Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis: “We will make sure that parents can send their kids to school to get an education, not an indoctrination.”

A big issue with this statement comes into play when you look at children whose families aren’t the traditional nuclear families like those portrayed on popular TV sitcoms such as “Black-ish” and “The Goldbergs.” Will teachers turn away children who show off pictures of their two dads or moms? All because some people go bananas fearing their kids will learn that some people have families who look different than theirs? These critics were probably huge fans of sitcoms such as “Modern Family” – which included an openly gay, white couple who adopted a child of Asian descent. 

Elementary schools are not teaching your kids about sex, porn, or any inherently sexual topic. It’s not in any elementary curriculum. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures there are few mentions of sex education in elementary schools. Those tend to be about puberty or about prevention of diseases such as HIV and AIDS. However, no U.S. elementary school has any required sex education curriculum. They’re not even telling kids where babies come from! So why would they teach your child sex education? The only way being LGBTQ+ becomes sexual is when people make it sexual. Even beyond the school argument, conservative talk show hosts and politicians are still blasting LGBTQ+ people and calling their identities corrupt. Conservative “activist” Charlie Kirk made bold claims on his podcast concerning same-sex marriage and children earlier this month.

The Charlie Kirk Show

“We’re talking about gay stuff more than any other time. Why? Because they are not happy just having marriage. Instead, they now want to corrupt your children,” Kirk said.

No one says heterosexual marriages corrupt children, so why do same-sex marriages corrupt children? They don’t. The haters want the rest of us to believe that kids with same-sex parents are corrupt because the parents aren’t straight. Where are the research studies or statistics showing that children of LGBTQ+ couples commit crimes more often? Think about it.

Another beef that critics have against LGBTQ+ people and their allies involves Disney. Ironically, people tend to want to include everyone or be kind to everyone until it’s something that’s unfamiliar to them–such as LGBTQ+ people. 

Earlier this month, Disney issued this statement about Florida’s HB 1557:  “We need to use our influence to promote that good by telling inclusive stories, but also by standing up for the rights of all. Starting immediately, we are increasing our support for advocacy groups to combat similar legislation in other states.”

In recent weeks, adults across the country have begun complaining all over the internet about their new “woke” and “left-wing” ideology. Tons of videos have flooded the internet showing parents protesting outside the Disney amusement parks and demanding they quit exposing their children to LGBTQ+ people and topics. If you Google “Parents upset with Disney over LGBTQ” over 13 million results pop up. 

So a Fortune 100 conglomerate such as Disney has to change just because some people don’t like gay people? Where does it all end? Should Disney whitewash its scant people of color representation in their movies because some people are racist? 

Even worse, because the anti-LGBTQ+ voices are the loudest, businesses, TV networks, and other organizations too often let them prevail. There have been too many shows enduring backlash. And at least one high-profile individual has gotten knocked around in the entertainment industry because of them being pansexual. 

As one of many examples, a popular Cartoon Network show called “Steven Universe” was blasted by fearful parents when two characters named Ruby and Sapphire were introduced. The episode, which aired in 2015, had both femme presenting characters in a romantic relationship forming another character in the show named Garnet. Douglas Blair wrote for the conservative leaning Daily Signal about Cartoon Network in late 2020 about how the company is “too woke.”

“Regardless of your opinions on LGBT issues, Cartoon Network is now a far cry from the network that aired apolitical content like ‘Pokémon,’” Blair wrote. “‘Steven Universe’ openly wears its woke messaging on its sleeve, teaching children that gender doesn’t exist and that men can be women and women can be men.”

He continued berating the network’s efforts to be LGBTQ+ friendly. He finished his article by warning parents that cartoons no longer teach kids morals but rather they “produce actual leftist propaganda.”

Insider, a news and media website, created a database of the LGBTQ+ characters in kids TV cartoons. The number of those characters did not even reach 300. Since 1983, around 260 characters have either been labeled or implied to be LGBTQ+ in their respective television shows. Insider journalist Abbey White said that cartoons are one of the biggest turf wars for this kind of representation.

“Kids media is the last battleground for LGBTQ representation,” said White in an NPR article. “If you can get it here, there is no excuse for anywhere else in media for it not to be visible.”

If LGBTQ+ representation was a norm in all media, then homophobic parents can’t call it “indoctrination” for their children. I mean, couldn’t you also declare Biblical references in children’s media to be indoctrination as well?

Another example of homophobia in children’s media is that recently, Jojo Siwa, the face of Nickelodeon for years, wasn’t invited to the Kids’ Choice Awards. Yet she had regularly attended the annual event and its “orange carpet” opening and walk for photographers. This was less than a year after she came out as pansexual, cut her hair to a “boy” hairstyle and announced she would use pronouns “she/they.” To me, the lack of invitation doesn’t sound like it was accidental. Especially after knowing Siwa was nominated for an award. 


Parents have bashed Siwa for coming out and changing appearance. There have been numerous articles about it over the last year by news outlets like US Magazine and Today. The fact that a young woman had to worry about losing her whole career just because she isn’t straight is so heartbreaking. 

Overall, we need to do better. We were striving to make LGBTQ+ people feel safe and equitable, but now the current climate of our country proves otherwise.

The bottom line is we need to be more supportive and accepting of LGBTQ+ people.